The Department of Psychology and Neuroscience is thrilled to announce that senior Cai Liu, pursuing a double major in Psychology and Sociology, has been honored as the recipient of the 2023-2024 Jerome S. Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.
Cai’s undergraduate thesis, titled “Cross-Cultural Differences between Love and Gratitude,” consists of a two-part study comparing the experiences of love and gratitude across three distinct regions—North America, Latin America, and East Asia. Recently, she completed the first manuscript for the initial part of the study, which is now under journal review. Also, Cai is about to begin the second part of her study.
Upon arriving at Duke University, Cai had not settled on a major in psychology. Initially considering sociology, history, or philosophy, she felt a persistent inclination towards the applied sciences. Balancing her passion for studying humanity with her natural aptitude in scientific fields presented a challenge. However, her perspective shifted after taking Psych 101 with Professor Bridgette Hard—a serendipitous moment arising from fulfilling a natural science requirement. Dr. Hard’s class opened a new realm of possibilities for Cai, solidifying her desire not only to study humanity but also to explore human behavior through a scientific lens. Cai also extends her immense appreciation to her advisor, Dr. Christine Salvador, whom she regards as an extraordinary, brilliant, and supportive mentor who has been a constant guiding presence throughout her academic journey.
Cai expresses deep gratitude for the multitude of opportunities available at Duke. When asked for advice for future students, Cai shared, “Just try everything. You won’t know until you try. Take your time to explore various options. It’s not about time frame; what matters is finding joy in what you do.”
Looking ahead, Cai plans to attend graduate school next year to further her research. Her aspiration is to become a professor, continuing her research endeavors to inspire more students to pursue psychology just as she has been inspired by her professors at Duke University.
The Jerome S. Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research acknowledges seniors at Duke University who exhibit excellence in research activities, intellectual curiosity, and the potential for future scholarly endeavors. Eligible applicants are actively engaged in psychological research, either as part of the Psychology major or under the guidance of a primary faculty member in Psychology and Neuroscience.